One of the things I dislike the most about going to church is this contradiction it seems to make in telling folks to be independent thinkers in a culture that opposes God - and yet tells you what to say, who to say it to, when to say it and how loud to say it. We've all suffered through uncomfortable moments with total strangers when your heart drops and the pastor says "Turn to your neighbor....." or the sweat saturated palms you have to clasp with someone whose name you may not even know. Yesterday I had to tell a lady behind me during communion, which I believe should be sacred and introspective "Jesus died for you that you might live for Him". Awkward much?
Don't get me wrong. I know lots of pastors, teachers, preachers and speakers that I respect highly who do the whole "repeat after me" thing in an attempt to get their congregation engaged. Some of my favorite speakers do it - Beth Moore, T.D. Jakes, and the list goes on. Then there is the reaction if the response isn't vehement enough - committed enough - bold enough. I've been admonished in church repeatedly with "Come on people, you can do BETTER than that!" Maybe I can't. Maybe I'm not there yet. Maybe it takes my learning style just a bit longer to process what was just presented. Maybe I was taking notes - writing down what was said in an attempt to engage myself. I am wondering why we are so afraid to let people learn and grow in their faith at their own pace or worship in a way that is individual to them? Can I not sing equally as passionately if I am sitting as opposed to standing? I spent years wondering if this was a pride thing for me - an attitude of "don't tell me what to do". I've come to the conclusion that it is more of an aversion to cult-like behavior. Don't confuse what I am saying. I have no intention of criticizing godly men and women who are doing their best to motivate people to live their lives sold out to Jesus. I just have an aversion to this specific element of corporate worship.
I love being with other people that love Jesus. I love listening to intelligent speakers that inspire and motivate me. I don't love feeling like I must obey the ritual or say the words I'm told to say or speak to a stranger without a proper opportunity to introduce myself. I hate the cult-like mantras of repetitive music and speech that go on and on. Nowhere else in society do people who don't know one another clasp hands. The whole thing is a false sense of familiarity and relationship that does not exist.
I would like to know how to participate in Christian community and avoid these things. Any suggestions?